Tanzania has a lot of tour options to offer visitors. It is best known for its expansive areas of wilderness and amazing wildlife, making it the ideal place to go on a safari. Some spots like Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti National Park are world-famous. However, some of the lesser-known destinations including conservation areas, lakes and mountains are certainly still worth a visit. Here’s a look at the best places to visit in Tanzania:
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti National Park offers the absolute classic African safari setting. The migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra starts here. The vast expanse of grasslands makes the Serengeti fantastic for spotting lion kills because you can see the whole spectacle clearly. There are mobile camps that are worth staying at because the wildlife concentrates in certain parts of the park depending on the time of year and the rains. The best time to go is between December and June, but you can’t really go wrong any time of the year. A hot-air balloon ride at dawn is a truly magnificent experience.
Lake Manyara National Park
When many people picture the national parks of Tanzania, they think of vast savannas. However, the Lake Manyara National Park offers a very different picture altogether. As the name suggests, the lake itself is a highlight. Lake Manyara makes up more than one-third of the park, although it fluctuates in size during the dry season. Because it is a major source of water, the lake is a prime spot for watching animals. During the dry season, which stretches from June to September, countless animals flock to the lake for water. That means you’ll be able to spot these magnificent creatures easily on a day safari.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Another amazing spot to view wildlife in Tanzania is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Its dominant feature is the geological marvel known as the Ngorongoro Crater – the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. Within the crater, you’ll find the highest density of lions in the entire world. The area is also known for having lots of black rhinos. Leopards, hyenas and cheetah are also commonly spotted within the conservation area. Once again, it is best to set off on a guided safari through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Near the border with Kenya, the inactive stratovolcano of Mount Kilimanjaro looms above the surroundings. As the highest freestanding mountain in the world, and the tallest peak in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is a popular place to visit in Tanzania for adrenaline junkies and world-class climbers. Surrounding the peak is the Kilimanjaro National Park. This includes forests, highlands, plateaus and a few smaller peaks as well. There are seven sanctioned routes to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, and they range in busyness and difficulty. Keep in mind that many visitors only climb part of the way up the mountain. Even a few hours of hiking can result in spectacular views over the park below.
Stone Town, Zanzibar
Off the coast of Tanzania is the island of Zanzibar, whose main city is known as Stone Town. In Stone Town, you’ll experience a completely different side to Tanzania. Stone Town is a melting pot of Swahili, Arab and Persian cultures. Many of the town’s buildings were constructed during the 19th century, when Zanzibar was a major trading center and at the height of its power. The trade created wealth which in turn led to the construction of palaces, mosques, and many fine houses. On your visit, you can check out the 17th-century fortress, as well as the many architectural gems hidden along the maze of narrow streets that wind through Stone Town.
Ruaha National Park
The largest national park in Tanzania, Ruaha is home to a staggering number of elephants and giraffes. In fact, Ruaha National Park is often called Giraffe Park. If you’re most interested in these graceful animals, but you wouldn’t mind spotting the rare lion as well, then a safari in Ruaha National Park can be a great choice. Many visitors appreciate that Ruaha National Park, located right in the center of Tanzania, doesn’t have big crowds. That means you can have a more authentic experience exploring Tanzania.
Mahale was the research base for a team of Japanese anthropologists for several decades. Despite the gorgeous clear waters of Lake Tanganyika and the obvious draw of the chimps themselves, Mahale was not an established tourist destination until about a decade ago. It’s still remote, but absolutely worth the trip. Besides the 1000 chimps, there are other primates to see too, including the red colobus and yellow baboons.
The best time to visit Mahale is during the dry season from May to October. A visit to Mahale is often combined with at least a few nights in Katavi. Mahale is linked by chartered aircraft to Dar es Salaam, Arusha, and Kigoma
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire is a popular day trip for those following a standard northern safari itinerary, but its baobab dotted in the landscape and numerous dry riverbeds are worth much more time. During the dry season (August to October) Tarangire has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Tanzania. It’s an excellent spot for those who love watching elephants, zebra, giraffes, impala, and wildebeest.
Tarangire is a good place to enjoy walking safaris and an excellent birding destination. Be prepared to swat tsetse flies here, at certain times of the year they can get annoying.
Accommodations in Tarangire include lodges, campsites, and luxury tented camps.
Katavi National Park
Katavi has all the credentials of being a top wildlife destination in Africa. It is teeming with animals, beautiful and unspoiled. The reason Katavi sees so few visitors is that it is so remote. This is a good reason to visit if you’re looking for a unique safari experience since there are only two camps and it’s only accessible by light aircraft.
Katavi is best during the dry season (June to November) where the pools are literally filled to the brim with as many as 3000 hippos.
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha is remote, large, and full of wildlife — especially elephants. There are also lions, cheetah, leopards, lots of kudu, and almost every other African mammal you’d like to see. The park is home to the Great Ruaha River and it’s here during the dry season (May to December) that you get some spectacular game viewing.
Ruaha is only accessible by light aircraft, and it’s suggested you stay at least 4 nights to make it a worthwhile trip. This also gives you enough time to explore this huge area of the unspoiled African wilderness. Luckily, the accommodations in Ruaha mean it’s a pleasure to spend several nights.